Archive | June, 2020

My birthday’s when we say it is.

23 Jun

In my (herd’s) world, if we weren’t experiencing a global pandemic, this would have been major furry-prep time.  I have to acknowledge it.  Anthrocon, the fur-tastic event that gives me all the wags was missed this July but (furry) puns and thoughts are a year-round constant for this Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever doggleganger.  And, going camping for my birthday was a purrfect op-paw-tunity for distraction.  Thanks to a rain delay, Collin and I actually went camping a few days after my birthday, which worked out even better.  We called it my ‘birthday weekend’ (even though it was the middle of the week).  And our celebrations lasted for almost 10 days (culminating with this trip).  The rain delay meant prolonged birthday festivities and I was able talk about our camping trip with friends before, helping build my excitement and anticipation.

The day of: Europe officially barred U.S. travelers due to covid-19.  My club was closed. We’d been trapped in the Dreamflat for MONTHS.  This had (probably) been the longest I’d gone in the past decade without packing a bag for an overnight trip; I was rusty, out of practice, and itching to travel…four months with zero overnight trips.  As I put my toothbrush in her to-go container, it felt magical to be stretching my atrophied packing muscles.

That morning, (even though it was July and my birthday is in June) Collin, wished me a happy birthday and then ‘we’ made one of my favorite breakfasts. (Does it seem like I often say “my favorite breakfast”?  Is this because 1. I love breakfast or 2. Collin spoils me by almost always making – I mean, ‘we make’ – my favorite foods.)  This time we had a deconstructed egg roll bowl with no left overs. Never mind that I accidentally melted a plastic spoon onto our wok while cooking, I’m the birthday girl.

We continued operation camping-prep and headed INTO THE WOODS! It was rHonda’s first time off-roading (as far as we know).  Col and I both kept looking for a clutch (shout-out to Mouse.)  It was a two night camping trip, which was nice as our first night wasn’t our last and we left the tent set-up.



Moraine State Park, Bear Run Campground.



Primitive camping.



A birthday party for two.


“We’re in it now, Trav”, Col told me as we drove up.  It was the most perfect campsite; I hopped out of our car overflowing with joy.  My eyes sparkled as they took in ALL THAT NATURE!  To live in the present, I put my phone on airplane mode, something I hadn’t done in awhile.  I realized I had truly been missing not having cell-phone service.



This is.THE.BEST. (Thank you, Bill, Collin, and campsite P-15!)


A HUGE thank you to Collin for being in charge of the fire. The tomahawk – now called hawk – came in handy — and not just for target practice.  Col worked hard to get the fire-resistant wood ignited (daily) and tolerated so much smoke in his eyes (it burns!) for the sake of providing good cuisine and entertainment.  It was because of him that we had mouth-watering subsistence and s’mores at every meal.

That first night, when it got dark, I rediscovered how downright cool I feel in a headlamp.



July 1st 2020, what a way to mark that this year is half over.


Above: That’s our breakfast cooking.



“You really nailed my birthday present” – me



Just your average glow-up.


“Good morning, I love you! Now, am I sore because I worked out with Molly on Zoom yesterday? Or, because we fully slept on the ground?”  These were the type of rhetorical questions I asked as we woke up to the birds chirping, and took deep breaths of fresh, forest air.

For breakfast, Collin taught me what a Moon Pie is and I’ll never be the same.  We sat by our morning fire watching the eggs, veggies, and our eyes get smoked.  Crackles of burning wood complimented the scene as I took a moment to absorb the serenity.  It was a happy birthday weekend.

When breakfast was over we gleefully headed on a drive to see the entire north shore of Moraine State Park.  The scenery and roads were like a natural amusement park for rHonda.  We stopped to pick wild blackberries and I said “This is so fun, babe!” approximately 33 times that day. Which is how you know the trip was fun. We took a stroll on the beach, checked out multiple marina’s, and spent at least three hours driving around the entirety of Lake Arthur.



This is how Lake Arthur looks from the north.


After a long day of exploring, we chose to hit up Shmily’s for some well-deserved ice cream and continue our geographic expedition by checking out the rest of the Bear Run Campground. Only ONE time during our entire stay did a car did pass our camp site and it was very memorable.

For dinner, Master Chef Collin made steaks in a cast iron pan over a fire that (take a guess who started?) he started.  Super sexy.  Those two nights in the woods were enchanting.  The sleeping on the ground situation could be improved upon (next time) but other than that it was darn.near.perfect.



Steak, butter, shiitake mushrooms, toasted ciabatta and onions. Is your mouth watering?


In the evening we played Pandemic Legacy TWICE and WON BOTH TIMES!! This really was a charmed trip.  In the morning, before we left, we wanted an adventure on foot and chose to hike the southern part of Lake Arthur.  I, personally, preferred the southern shore; it’s smaller, prettier and has better views.  The trail we chose was called Sunken Garden.  Now and forever whenever we pass the Portersville exit on I-79…I’ll think of this ❤



Lake Arthur from the south.



Leavin’ me beggin’ for s’more.



As I always say, I’ll never take sleeping in a bed for granted.
I hope to smell like smoke for a week.
smokey ‘mi



Rugged, happy campers.

3rd month in Quarantine. (please don’t end).

14 Jun

NOTE: I’ve been feeling torn about when to publish this blog post, not wanting to cloud any messages and posts from the throngs of people who are feeling empowered and finding their own voice.  It’s a humbling time to be alive.

In my own world, news broke that the bar where I work will be closing (again) on today (It’s Tuesday, June 30th) It was only open for 3 weeks.  I went to work (for only) one day before my desire to stay snuggled and safe in this quarantine love-bubble prevailed. I have a feeling that Collin and I will look back on this time in our lives and say that it was one of the best, so, I’m doing my best not to rush out of it.

On a totally unrelated note, it feels really, really, really good to be up writing this blog post in real-time.  Yay! Lately — and who hasn’t had free time lately, let’s be real — I’ve been re-reading past, travel posts — Germany, Kazakhstan, Australia. — along with NYT articles about our failing government and my white privilege.   With international travel being in the state that it is — I enjoy rereading my old blogs for an escape, for memories and for visuals that they conjure up.  Did you know, for example, that when I was in Greece I did a “who wore it best” Greek salad edition?  I wouldn’t have remembered it either, because my memory can’t be trusted.  But the blogs? I trust them.

I also finished editing a historical fiction novel for my old babysitter, Tonya.  It was fantastic. Well-written and interesting, it’s based in Guatemala.  I’ll let you know when she publishes it.  It made me wish I had written more when I traveled; had more details documented.  Especially from those earlier countries I visited like Cuba, Iceland, and Nepal.  Looking back, a post per country was.not.sufficient.  (Maybe one day I will publish a couple of previously unpublished blog posts, but don’t hold your breath.)

In the heat of the moment, it’s hard to know what to document; difficult to know my own place in history, which parts of the story I’m going to want to look back on, to emphasize, and what my responsibility is.  Combined with the fact that living in the moment is endlessly more fun. And these blogs – as Helen, Molly, and Patrick know — are a pain to write but a pleasure to re-read.  Will I ever want to go back and revisit these quarantine posts? It’s impossible to know, but I’m appreciating how unique of a time it is to be alive. Here’s my third post from this pandemic:


Home sweet home

Home sweet home base for three months non-stop.


May 15th, rain
Allegheny county moved to yellow!
– Yoga (on Zoom) with the best teacher.
– Shabbat Shalom, Molly and Dave.


May 16th
–  Trisha in the park, followed by homemade mojitos on the porch.
– Cookies, again.
– Ariann & Senneca’s, burgers and a fancy kale salad.
– Fact: Nacho cheese Doritos are the best way to start arson and have it not be detected.
– Tobo Chico = sparkling water Joey recommends.
– Babe, you look amazing in that green sweatshirt ❤


May 17th
Day one: Turning the air con on inside of the Dreamflat.


The type of breakfast I eat, nowadays.


– Potted those plants in a planter that isn’t ours.
– Pasta fagioli for dinner, at Dad John’s.


May 18th
Currently, the most used condiment in the Dreamflat = our prized sweet & sour sauce.
– Deconstructed egg roll, for brekkie.
– Using up all of my smiles with Katie Barbaro before seeing Brian.
– Logically, no smiles for scary Brian.
– An all day hang with my favorite wee Emily. Including a cull!
– Scooter rides with both Emily and Collin ❤


May 19th
– Yoga
– Patrick in the great outdoors! (Burger King and Arby’s milkshakes.)
– Not completely unrelated, off brand Tums for dinner.

Notes from my time with Patrick:
– Our cars got to meet and hang out!
– A woman driving down the rural road asked:  “Are you looking for the goats?”
– Two (very) large vanilla milkshakes and two different types of fries.
– Gunshots in the distance, apparently it was turkey season.
– One FOUND Geocache and one, on the bridge, we DNF.
– We saw those goats, tho.
– Yoga mats on the road side, relaxing in the grass.
– Air hugs goodbye ❤



Having isolation-ship time, but together.


May 20th
– A successful scooter AND stick shift lesson with my boyfriend.
– “Babe! There’s something going on across the street. Grab the cushion, it’s like watching real, live Cops.” – Collin, during his favorite evening to date, in quarantine.
– Our (surprise) final SUSH (for now). Congratulations on a job well done!

May 21st
– Taco salad for breakfast, YUM.
– Emily scooted by to drop off my wallet, and then spearheaded a scooter outing because it was gorgeous outside.
– Both Helen and I are now relishing the lack of stress when it comes to SUSH.


May 22nd
Collin did yoga five days this week!

Omg, is that a new guitar?!

– The yummy dinner at Hanna’s new apartment.
– An evening porch hang with “Tinto de verano” (red wine with ice), Minn who has “never had a bad rhino”, and Bill, who texted Doug: “Collin is playing Kanye on the guitar, I think you should be here.”

“Man, that was fun.” – Bill, at the end of the night, giving us a compliment.

May 23rd
Today, Col quoted yoga around the house.  HEART EYES.
– An outdoor comedy show!
– The coolest jukebox and the best slice of homemade, cherry pie.
– A (funny to me) sneezing fit.
– Wild night: Wolf of Wall Street comedy show; midgets wrestling, broken clipboards.



Being reunited ALWAYS feels so good.



May 24th
– An early morning, making chicken salad, before we headed up to FL.

– Collin fell asleep in front of the blow dryer 😂


May 25th
– Col drove Mouse home (!)
– At Momma Candy’s an idyllic Memorial Day cookout, complete with cookie cake.


May 26th
– Emily and I did our research and proudly voted by mail.
– A double date with BELLA AND VB ❤


May 27th
The day my unemployment came through 🙂


A long scooter ride.

– Tonya, in the SUSH waiting room 💜
– Just the two of us, with sparklers on the porch.
– Netflix: Night on earth


May 28th
– I put air in the tires of Pinksburgh II: You looked like you were struggling. “What about me looked like I was struggling?”
– Vegging out, watching a “live” Inside Number 9; Disney plus’ short film, Out; Taylor’s city of love concert.


May 29th


See if you can spot my dinner: Matzo meal coated chicken, to die for Mac & cheese (with my favorite shaped pasta), & green beans

– Went on a 7 minute run.
– Followed #plantydroppers (and felt inspired to be the hashtag I’d like to follow).


May 30th
A trip! We rented a luxury Cadillac & planned to find the best ice cream in all of Ohio🍦😃 Col let me pick the music.  Our firs stop was in West Virginia at a Cherokee shop before we ended up in Zanesville, Ohio, as tourists.  First stop: Mission Oaks Gardens where we enjoyed the grounds, searched (unsuccessfully) for a Geocahe, appreciated the soft garden and both got to pee outside.



One with nature.


Zanesville is the former pottery capital of the world.  We saw Vasehenge, a Y bridge, and another, unsuccessful (stinky) Geocache, before our FIRST TIME IN A RESTAURANT (since the pandemic). At a place called Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl where we got, you guessed it, ice cream.  Wow. I mean, WOW!  We only tried one ice cream spot because our data was conclusive: PICTURED BELOW IS THE BEST ICE CREAM IN ALL OF OHIO!



That hot fudge is only $0.30.


On our way home, we visited Dillon road, along with a cool, hand-cranked river locke, and went antiquing because we’re “never going back to Zanesville again”.
“Antiquing. I’m not into it.” – Collin
“Didn’t you pick out the antique mall for us to go to?” – Sammi
“Yeah I thought we could find some cool old guns and things we could sell for thousands of dollars, but I was wrong.” – Collin

We spent the evening at Mike and Kendall’s, and wrote a yelp review:
Great people with lovely ambiance, drinks, and decor  – on Mt. Washington
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May 31st
A lazy day
– Binge watched TV shows (including Run)
– Made cauliflower pizza (plus 3 bowls of mac & cheese)
– Used the blanket that smells like Findley Lake
– Took a nap
– Ordered DoorDash, Thai
– Mingled on the family Zoom
– And was told, accurately: “My babe has not left this couch in awhile.” – Col.
– The whole day wasn’t a waste.  Here’s a fact from Night on Earth, episode 1: Stars are 200 times dimmer than the moon. And the Moon is 4,000 times dimmer than the sun.


June 1st
– Col did my hair (again). What.A.Saint! Reminder: Our next apartment needs ventilation.
– Marta made a book about drawing that both Patrick and I ordered.
– I cleaned the entire house, top to bottom.


June 2nd
Black Lives Matter.
– “Something’s going on with the washing machine, mark my words.” – Collin
– Finished Inside No. 9 and ranked all of the episodes. Our fav? Cold Comfort. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS SHOW.
– Collin makes the best homemade soup.
– “How the frick did a good boy like me get the dirty glass?” – Col


Patrick arrived at the Dreamflat, YAY!


– Scoot scoot!
– Played the hardest level of Pandemic, with 6 epidemic cards, AND WON!


June 3rd
When Collin does yoga with my mom MY HEART COULD EXPLODE! He’s getting so good.
– Red, White and Patrick thrift store shopping.
– Waffle cone Wednesday at Happy Days turned into a fun adventure with ice cream on the back of our scooter.  Patrick, held two cones, one was dripping: “Is this the fastest way home?”, he asked. “I’m reaching the point of overflow”.
It was joyous, I couldn’t be happier! “I love ice cream! I love the scooter! I love you guys!”
– Deconstructed egg roll for dinner, MMM!
– Tree Identification: We found our first tree by noticing the label. Hint: Look for natural context ‘clues’.
– American Sycamore? American Healthyless.
– “Dang” Re: How unique Ginkgo leaves are.
In the evening, Patrick and I talked about travel.  We re-read past blog posts and felt some of the same emotions that we got to experience while traveling. Can’t wait until we can plan another trip together!


June 4th
– The best breakfast with so much food, and then “Big tree fall hard.”
– Amazing, long scooter ride through River View park.
– Hours of culling with my bestie. Including…the hardest cull of our lives: Packing up the furries.
– Photosynthesis, a buzz kill (the board game not the scientific process).
– Watching Patrick’s 8th grade graduation ❤


June 5th
-First (and only) day back to work


June 6th


❤ ❤ A successful FL family excursion ❤ ❤


June 7th


Happy birthday, Pearl!

– I’m very into this plant identification app.
– Ray’s first time in the Dreamflat, welcome!
– “Do you remember when you shot a sparkler off of the porch like it was a wand?” – Ray


“Yo. You wanna bite fight?” -Col



June 8th
– A planned TV day! Garth Brooks, 13th Amendment, Schitt’s Creek.
– And… all the dessert: Hot mug, frozen banana. I was in classic mouse-cookie mode.
– Spent time editing Katie’s book ❤
– “I get in trouble because my sandals aren’t working right.” – Col


June 9th
– Yoga
– Whenever we leave the room, on a journey: “I Forgot that You Existed”



June  10th
– Half-off day at the thrift store.
– Dead to Me (a TV show, not how I feel on the inside.)


June 11th


That sky AND no traffic?! I’m gunna miss this place.


– A party at Michelle’s with Mike and Kendyll.
– Note to self: HOW GREAT WAS IT IN THAT HOT TUB?!!!
– Collin got his passport! 🙂


Cheers to many more.



June 12th
– Peppi’s sandwiches, in the park
– Dumb squatter on our porch, will Collin be able to fall asleep tonight?
– Haha, had to go retrieve the letter I (accidentally) sent to the wrong address .


June 13th
– Watched Liz Miele’s YouTube special.
– Double date with wee Em and the Tall One in that amazing backyard. SUCH a great spot to hang out! Those lights! We missed mini-golf and almost didn’t leave.


Trouble makers who love each other.



FOUR! (as in, how many of us were on the date.)


June 14th
– Continual emphasis on long scooter rides.
– Played cornhole at a cookout with Bill’s dad, also named Bill.
– Martini (!) with Doug – he puts the “u” in dog. We happily hung-out as his second choice.


Highest point in Allegheny County, allegedly.


And, just like that, we’ve wrapped up another month.
Black Lives Matter,